BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The stay-at-home order in California is having a different effect on everyone’s health. But people with, or recovering from, an eating disorder, are especially vulnerable. Experts say the stress behind grocery shopping nowadays can exacerbate the problem.
It’s estimated that 30 million people in the U.S. will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. One of those people is Ryan Sheldon, who was diagnosed in 2015.
"I have all this food in my kitchen. And even though I’m in recovery, I’m constantly tempted. Flooded with the thoughts, ‘should I eat should I eat should I eat?’ Or on the backside, it’s like, ‘maybe I won't eat maybe I won't eat maybe I won't eat,''' Sheldon said.
Ryan isn’t alone. The National Eating Disorders Association, or NEDA, is reporting an 83% increase in chat volume last month, as compared to this time last year.
"Eating disorders unfortunately really thrive in isolation," Claire Mysko, the CEO of NEDA, said. "A lot of people are feeling a lot of pressure around weight loss and fear of weight gain right now."
“There’s this sense that we’re almost getting graded while we’re in quarantine. We’re going to come out of here like with a report card. Which isn’t true! But there’s this expectation that we’re supposed to get ‘better’ during this time," Sheldon said.
Eating disorders can affect anyone. Claire says, if you have an unhealthy relationship with food, staying connected to your support system is especially important right now. And, if you know someone is struggling, reach out and ask how they're doing.
“Ask them questions. How are you doing? How are you feeling? Is everything ok? It’s also totally acceptable to ask people what they need from you," Sheldon said.
You can find more resources on their website, nationaleatingdisorders.org.